A comforting and warm dessert of tender taro (kalo) pieces slowly simmered in sweet (with just a hint of salt!) coconut milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for an extra nice touch ^_^
Taro (Kalo) With Coconut Milk
This dessert combines two popular Hawaii ingredients: taro (kalo) and coconut milk.
Kalo is the Hawaiian word for Taro.
Both words are used in Hawaii. A restaurant catered towards visitors might list a menu dish using the word taro. But a more local spot might use the word kalo for that same dish.
Taro is the more common name, but in recent years, we've seen kalo being used more and more frequently. There's even a great dessert shop on Oahu called Kalo Bombs.
Lots of taro is grown in Hawaii (many say the best taro is grown on Kauai island) and we have endless sweet and savory taro dishes...like Kulolo!
Why This Recipe Works
This recipe is simple, elegant, and straightforward. It centers around fresh (or frozen) taro.
If using frozen taro, it should already be cubed and ready to cook. If using fresh taro, please make sure to wash, peel, and cube the taro before starting the recipe.
Taro and coconut are two complimentary flavors and this dessert draws from multiple cultures. It's a little:
- Vietnamese - Similar to our Vietnamese tapioca dessert: Banana Tapioca and Purple Sweet Potato Tapioca.
- Chinese - Like taro tapioca.
- Samoan - Almost like a sweet version of Fa’alifu.
...and 100% Hawaii! When we say Hawaii is a melting pot of many cultures, we are not kidding ^_^
The cooked taro is slowly simmered with a can of coconut milk and sweetened with (just a little) sugar.
The taro gets really tender and coated with the slightly thickened coconut milk. It melts in your mouth.
Salt stirred in towards the end of cooking gives balance to the whole dessert. Salt is a key ingredient for any dessert that uses coconut milk!
- Taro (kalo), cubed - Because taro is grown in Hawaii, it is fairly easy to find at nearly all Hawaii supermarkets. We can even get par-cooked and already cubed taro and frozen taro! #luckywelivehawaii ^_^. If you're on the mainland, check Chinese supermarkets for fresh taro. Sometimes Japanese markets will also have fresh taro.
- Coconut Milk - we usually buy Chaokoh brand. Make sure to get full fat coconut milk (not "lite" or "reduced fat" coconut milk).
- Sugar - Just plain white sugar.
- Salt - We like to use Hawaiian sea salt, but you can use any type of salt for this recipe.
Step by Step Directions
Got all your ingredients? Let's get cooking!
Get a medium sized pot. Steam or boil the taro pieces until they are tender (easily pierced with a toothpick). This should take about 20 minutes.
Then pour out the water and place the taro pieces back into the same pot.
Turn the heat to low and pour in the can of coconut milk (make sure to share the coconut milk can before opening, otherwise all the good thick stuff aka the coconut cream can get stuck to the bottom of the can).
Gently mix and then place the lid on the pot. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Tip: Try to stir gently so that the corners of the taro pieces don't break off. It's ok if it they do (will still taste delicious!), but it's much prettier if you can keep the pieces fully intact.
Add sugar and salt to taste. Start with the amount of salt called for in the recipe, and feel free to add more if desired.
Tip: Adding salt is KEY to this recipe. Whenever you use coconut milk for a dessert, you always need to add a bit of salt. The salt doesn't make this dish salty, but it emphasizes and brings out the rich coconut flavors.
Try a spoonful of the dessert before adding salt. Try another spoonful after adding the salt. Taste the difference? It's makes it so much more amazing.
Simmer for another 5 minutes. Spoon into individual dessert bowls and serve hot. Enjoy ^_^
FAQs and Tips
2-3 days in the refrigerator, in a sealed container.
Spoon into a bowl and microwave in 30 second increments until hot.
We love sweets in Hawaii! We usually enjoy a mix of local desserts, Hawaiian desserts, and many other Asian desserts (stay tuned for more taro recipes Hawaii). These are a few go-to recipes:
- Rainbow Jello
- Local-Style Custard Pie
- Banana Tapioca (Che Chuoi)
- Coffee Jelly
- Purple Sweet Potato Tapioca
- Sparkling Strawberry Agar Agar
- Li Hing Pickled Mango - this counts both as a snack and a dessert 😉
- Li Hing Gummy Bears
- Haupia (Hawaiian Coconut Pudding)
- Strawberry-Haupia Agar Agar
- Almond Tofu
- Vietnamese Mung Bean Dessert (Che Dau Xanh)
- Osmanthus and Goji Agar Agar
- Butter Mochi
Taro With Coconut Milk Recipe
See below and enjoy ^_^
- In a medium pot, steam (or boil) the taro (kalo) until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain out the water and place the taro back into the same pot.
- Turn the heat to low and pour in the can of coconut milk.
- Gently mix and then place the lid on the pot. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve.
- Simmer for another 5 minutes. Spoon into individual dessert bowls and serve hot.